Meet the artist battling Indigenous cultural appropriation with badass t-shirts and movie posters

By creating counterculture icons, Chippewar — a.k.a. Jay Soule — is combatting Indigenous stereotypes.

By creating counterculture icons, Chippewar is combatting Indigenous stereotypes

This artist is fighting cultural appropriation with over-the-top Indigenous monster movie posters

7 years ago
Duration 3:14
"The Hollywood Indian's always been portrayed as the monster and I thought by taking necessarily European stories and giving them an Indigenous twist, I felt like it's a reverse cultural appropriation" - Artist Chippwar (aka Jay Soule) on why he's making counter-culture Indigenous icons.

Artist Jay Soule has an alter ego: Chippewar. As Soule explains, it's a play on words: "Chippewa, Chippewarrior, Chippewar." So what is he fighting? Indigenous cultural appropriation, namely. Soule is quick to call out the practice that's been showing up all too frequently in everything from sports branding to fashion to tour merch.

In his work, Soule takes Indigenous stereotypes and turns them on their heads, making monster movie posters and t-shirts that are straight out of the 1940s and 1950s. They have titles like "The Bride of Frankensioux," "Last Brave on Earth," "Tribe of Dracula" and "The Curse of the Cayuga" — and did we mention they're totally badass?

"I think it's a way to also kind of reclaim some of our stories and reclaim some of our identity," Soule says. "And I think it was also just to tell a story of how we would have evolved as filmmakers and storytellers, and almost make them like they're our original stories — because in a lot of ways, they are."

The above video was made by CBC Arts video producer Jess Hayes and features the song "Old School is for Lovers" by DJ Shub ft. Morningstar River. Chippewar painted the artwork for DJ Shub's latest release, the PowWowStep EP.

Find more of Jay Soule's work here

Watch Exhibitionists Sundays at 4:30pm (5 NT) on CBC.